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Dentist plans 2014 run for House seat in 26th District

Dr. Michelle Downey CaldierA dentist whose practice provides mobile dental care for Seattle-area seniors has announced she will run in 2014 for the 26th District seat in the state House of Representatives.

Dr. Michelle Downey Caldier sent out a news release Dec. 12 saying she will run for the seat that’s been held since 2006 by Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor). Caldier’s news release did not identify her party affiliation or list where she lives, but other media outlets have reported she will run as a Republican, and she lives in Port Orchard according to her Facebook page.

Caldier is the owner of Golden Age Dentistry, a Kenmore-based business that provides dental services to the elderly in assisted-living centers and nursing homes around Puget Sound.

“I’ve never been that political,” she said in her campaign announcement. “I have devoted my career as a dentist to helping the elderly in nursing homes and advocating for the poor.”

Caldier successfully lobbied with others to restore adult dental care coverage in Medicaid that the Legislature cut in 2010. Beginning in 2014, people with low incomes will be able to get Medicaid dental coverage again.

But Caldier said that the paperwork and regulations surrounding Medicaid prevent many providers from being able to accept Medicaid, leaving many patients without consistent care.

“Making the process more efficient will bring more medical providers into the system and ensure that Medicaid works for those who need it,” she said.

Caldier is an affiliate professor at the University of Washington Dental School and said she sees the financial crunch that students at the UW face with increasing tuition costs and a higher debt load when they graduate.

Caldier said tuition at the University of Washington was $5,880 in 2006 and has more than doubled at over $12,000 today.

“People in our community are losing some of the opportunities I had,” said Caldier. “That is not right. It kills the dreams of parents and students.”

She said that after building her dental practice for the past decade, she is excited for the chance to serve in the Legislature.

Caldier, who went to Central Kitsap High School, earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Washington and graduated from the UW School of Dentistry in 2001.

The 26th District includes Bremerton, all of South Kitsap County, and Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula in Pierce County. There is currently an opening for the second 26th District House seat because incumbent Rep. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) won a special election in November for the state Senate seat in the district.

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